Receiving a free copy of NME on my commute to work certainly felt like a perk. After 63 years of publications and plummeting sales as the digital world speeds up, NME is now trying to widen its readership by being freely accessible at train stations, student venues and certain newsagents. I’ve read a lot of discussion surrounding whether or not this is a positive move for the company. Some have claimed that it’s innovative, but simply put, NME are holding on by the skin of their teeth to remain relevant.
Understandably, in widening the variety of content they look to widen their readership. Yet, I couldn’t help but find the likes of Rihanna and Robert Pattinson on the front cover a quick two fingers up at the indie/alternative industry. Where the Guardian proclaims that NME “is seen as a bastion of youthful guitar-wielding indie acts such as the Libertines and Arctic Monkeys“, I can only protest at how quickly NME have moved away from this description. Sure, there’s a two page spread of the Libertines on the opening pages, but the spirit of NME has been lost to commercial consumerization. Could there be hope that NME will come back from it and recognise their typical and loyal fan base, giving indie bands the limelight? I doubt it when NME claim Rihanna was the obvious choice for the new launch as “she’s individual, she’s iconic and she perfectly embodies the spirit of the new NME“.
NME have the perfect platform to push indie and alternative bands, but the potential is eaten up by an increased volume in advertising, with almost every second page promoting a celebrity, fashion or new film. NME’s curated content is of absolutely no interest to me when I use apps such as Flipboard that only target me with the music news (or other articles) I want to read. I also get instant access, rather than waiting until my arrival at the train station to have irrelevant adverts bulldozed into my eyeballs.
NME has becoming intrusive and uninteresting – a point backed up by the introduction of new columnist Katherine Ryan. Quite frankly, I find her to be a vulgar writer, only capable of producing content that makes her sound like a teenager who has discovered the joy in swearing when their parents aren’t around. The way she talks about male/female relationships in an increasingly progressive time is a significant niggle that means I won’t be picking up NME again.
Overall, I think NME should have just called it a day, or at least remained solely online with the same alternative focus. That way they wouldn’t lose their main readership, and they certainly wouldn’t tick off those who were willing to give them another chance. Although I am thoroughly disappointed, I do favour the staff handing out the magazines over those handing out The Shortlist. Heaven only knows how sweet it was not to be chased in a circle on the way to work in the name of free publications.